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HindustanTimes Thu,28 Aug 2014

Investors, it’s time to go vegan

Manas Chakravarty   September 22, 2013
First Published: 00:07 IST(22/9/2013) | Last Updated: 04:32 IST(22/9/2013)

Dear investors,
Where should you invest your hard-earned money? We at Vegetarian Investments Ltd have the answer to your plaintive question. Why vegetarian, you ask? It is to ensure that while we respect your dietary sensibilities, we also earn outsize returns on them.

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Do vegetarian investments make sense? Well, let’s consider non-vegetarian investments, however painful that may be. Take, for example, pork. Pork prices, according to the wholesale price index, were up a mere 4.8% in August, compared to a year ago. That is a good thing, for those who like pork vindaloo. But it’s a lousy return for those who invest in pork, apart from the meat going bad anyway.

Contrast the joys of vegetarian investing. Consider ginger. Wholesale dry ginger prices have gone up 38.9%. That is what you would have earned if you had invested in (the technical term is hoarded) ginger for the past one year. Even after cold storage costs, it’s a decent return. Or take tapioca. Tapioca wholesale prices are up a mouth-watering 116.2%. And green peas are such a top secret investment the government has stopped publishing its wholesale prices.

Investor surveys show many decent vegetarian folk put their money in bank fixed deposits, earning a piffling 9% per year or so. Some put it in shares, where the returns are linked to the state of the Indian economy. We all know how badly the economy is doing. And the uncomfortable truth is nobody knows whether fixed deposits or stocks are vegetarian.

On the other hand, investing in cereals and vegetables is profitable even when the economy is comatose. People have a tendency to eat, so demand remains strong, while we adjust the supply. Our economist tells us India has a competitive advantage in hoarding. That is why the humble ragi has returned 41.5% in a year. And our star investment, the onion, has given us a massive 244.6%. That is how much wholesale onion prices have risen in the past year.

Last year, when we launched our Onion Fund, the heading of our research report was ‘Sell Gold, Buy Onions’. Those who listened to us have not only made huge profits, but they have also been patriotic, because while you have to import gold, onions are grown in our green and pleasant land. That’s apart from being able to deck your daughter out in the choicest onion garlands for her wedding. Best of all, you could eat some of them, without paying through your nose.

You may ask why you should not invest in vegetables yourself, rather than entrust your funds to us. Well, we are expert professional hoarders, with a hoary history of hoarding. For instance, you may have decided to buy potatoes with onions because they go together.

But potato prices have fallen. We, on the other hand, who can truly bring you the benefits of diversification, bought garlic, whose prices have gone up 39.7% in the past year. That is why, ladies and gentlemen, we invite you to invest in our Onion Fund. By far the best way would be to put in a small amount every month — we call it the Systematic Onion Plan (SOP).

Lastly, the key to good fund management is a great fund manager. We intend to ask a maestro of agricultural investing to manage our Onion and Vegan Funds. His name, of course, is Sharad Pawar.

Manas Chakravarty is Consulting Editor, Mint

Views expressed by the author are personal


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